- Editorial Note
This spring is an exciting time at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal. We are rolling out our new series of online reviews of books in bioethics, practical ethics, and the ethical, social, and legal dimensions of science and medicine. These in-depth reviews will be written by leading figures in the discipline, and will be published in online issue supplements, with pre-publication versions available on our website or by e-mail subscription. We are very enthusiastic about this new initiative and hope that our reviews will become crucial tools and sources of inspiration for everyone interested in the field of bioethics, broadly construed. We hope that you will make use of and enjoy this new source of ethical conversation and information.
Our spring issue represents our current attempt here at the journal to broaden the discipline’s conception of what counts as a bioethical issue.
In our lead article, David DeGrazia brings the currently emotional debates over gun control policy within the purview of bioethics. Violence and policies concerning violent weapons are crucial health issues, and yet bioethicists have done little to bring their tools and insights to this domain. DeGrazia’s paper thus breaks new ground. He defends a moderate gun control policy, and argues that from the point of view of public health, it is morally inexcusable not to tighten gun regulations in the United States, regardless of which moral framework we employ.
Our second two papers—“Resolving the Conflict: Some Clarifications of Vulnerability in Health Care” (by Anglea Martin, Nicholas Tavaglione, and Samia Hurst) and “Beneficence, Justice, and Health Care” (by J. Paul Kelleher)—both take rich philosophical concepts that usually find their home within research ethics and resituate them within the domain of patient care. Martin and her co-authors give a close analysis of the notion of vulnerability. They seek meaningful ways of identifying specific, morally pressing vulnerabilities among patients, given that all patients are to some extent vulnerable. Kelleher creatively revisits the much-discussed notion [End Page vii] of beneficence, arguing that duties of beneficence are sometimes grounded in justice-based duties. This pushes against the tradition of thinking of justice as a consideration that comes into play only at the population level.
The final paper, Howard Brody’s “Chauncey Leake and the Development of Bioethics in America,” brings a new methodological approach to the journal. This is a historical paper examining the intellectual and social role that Leake played in the development of the discipline of bioethics. Leake’s advocacy for the integration of philosophy and medical expertise in bioethics became a hallmark of the field; yet Leake himself is mostly forgotten. Brody examines both his contribution and the reasons for his relative invisibility. This kind of intellectual history enriches and grounds ethical analysis in crucial ways, but it is too rarely integrated into bioethical conversations. [End Page viii]